Healthy Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese is wonderfully creamy with cheddar cheese, mozzarella, and nutritious squash. Perfect for a cozy evening!
Whether you’re craving it for lunch, Dinner, or a Side Dish, sometimes there’s just nothing better than a rich bowl of mac and cheese. However, traditional mac and cheese isn’t exactly healthy. Fortunately, with this version, you can enjoy the classic dish guilt-free. For other healthy noodle recipes try our White Bean Pasta and Skinny Chicken Alfredo Pasta.
HEALTHY BUTTERNUT SQUASH MACARONI AND CHEESE
This healthy Mac and Cheese recipe is made with mozzarella and cheddar cheeses, and a whole pound of butternut squash. The butternut squash sauce has a gently sweet, nutty flavor that goes perfectly with the more sharp cheese flavors. It’s a great way to sneak some extra nutrition into one of your family’s favorite comfort foods.
Along with the squash, this recipe is also made lighter by using milk instead of heavy cream, and less cheese than you’d find in a typical Mac and Cheese dish. However, the Healthy Macaroni and Cheese still tastes wonderfully indulgent with a rich, creamy sauce that you won’t be able to get enough of.
Macaroni and Cheese can make a simple main dish for a busy night, or work as a side dish with a more traditional dinner. Try serving it alongside healthy dishes like Garlic Braised Chicken with Kale, BBQ Chicken, or Pretzel Crusted Chicken. It’s an easy, filling dish to finish off any dinner!
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TIPS FOR MAKING BUTTERNUT SQUASH MAC AND CHEESE
- Prep: Peel the butternut squash skin and slice the squash into bite-sized pieces to prep it for the recipe.
- Pasta: Cook the pasta in boiling water, but drain it 1 minute shy of the package directions so that they remain al dente.
- Butternut squash mixture: Add the cubed butternut squash and chicken broth to a large pot over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat. Cover the dish and let it simmer until the squash is tender. It should take about 25 minutes. Add in the milk, garlic, sour cream, salt, ground mustard, and pepper. Use an immersion blender to puree the hot squash mixture. If you don’t have an immersion blender, transfer the mixture to a food processor to blend.
- Butternut squash cheese sauce: Add the cheddar and mozzarella cheeses to the pureed sauce. Stir the ingredients as they all melt into one cheesy sauce.
- Finish: Fold the cooked pasta into the sauce and then dish it into bowls.
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VARIATIONS ON BUTTERNUT SQUASH MACARONI AND CHEESE
- Cheeses: You can easily change up the flavor by using different kinds of cheeses. Try out gruyère, parmesan, gouda, Monterey jack, pepper jack, Swiss, or any of your other favorite cheeses.
- Pasta: You can also use differently shaped noodles like elbow macaroni, penne, rigatoni, or farfalle.
- Bacon: For some extra protein and flavor, try topping the dish off with bacon bits. You can use regular or turkey bacon depending on your preference.
- Veggies: You could also add delicious vegetables to the mixture like onions, cauliflower, bell peppers, or shallots.
- Seasonings: The easiest way to add some new flavor to recipes is by experimenting with herbs and spices. Try sprinkling in some fresh thyme, rosemary, oregano, bay leaves, paprika, or chili powder.
- Breadcrumbs: Mac and Cheese taste amazing with crispy breadcrumbs over the top. You can either use panko breadcrumbs or make your own breadcrumb mixture by baking 2 cups of breadcrumbs in a 300-degree oven for 5-10 minutes.
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HOW TO STORE BUTTERNUT SQUASH MACARONI AND CHEESE
- Serve: If you have any leftovers, you don’t want to leave them at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
- Store: To store the dish for later, let it cool then transfer it to an airtight container to store in the fridge for 3-5 days.
- Freeze: You can also seal the Mac and Cheese to freeze for up to 2 months. Let it thaw in the fridge before reheating it for a few minutes in the oven and serving.
- 1 pound large shell pasta
- 3 cups butternut squash , cubed peeled, 1 inch cubes
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 1/2 cups 2% milk
- 2 garlic cloves , minced
- 2 tablespoons light sour cream
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 cup low-fat mozzarella cheese , shredded
- Cook pasta 1 minute shy of the package instructions, then drain and set to the side.
- Add the butternut squash cubes and chicken broth to a large pot, and bring to a boil on medium-high heat.
- Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 25 minutes until squash is tender.
- Add in milk, garlic, sour cream, salt, ground mustard, and pepper.
- Using an immersion blender (or move the mixture to a heat-safe high-speed blender) and puree until smooth.
- Add in the cheddar and mozzarella, stirring until melted and creamy.
- Fold in the shells and serve.